The American-based company has just been granted a long-term lease by the City of Port Phillip Council, and will now man the day-to-day operations of the iconic concert hall.
“Live Nation’s proposal met or exceeded all our objectives and we are excited at what can now be delivered for our community and live music fans across Australia,” Council said in a statement. “We welcome Live Nation aboard and look forward to this much loved St Kilda venue delighting audiences for years to come.”
The good news is, this means that the old girl will continue to serve as a live music venue, and remain safe from the ruthless hands of greedy developers who might knock her down and convert her into luxury apartments or retail space, much like the fate of her less-fortunate sister, The Palace.
However, concerns remain about the impact of the decision for local promoters.
Live Nation are already a big fish in the Aussie concert promotions pond, and giving them sole dominion over one of Melbourne’s top venues is a move that’s concerned others.
“When you book a venue for a concert they want to know who the act is. So you will be in a situation where you are telling a rival who the act is before that act is booked,” Chugg Entertainment figurehead Michael Chugg said back when Live Nation were still awaiting the results of their lease application.
“And that rival will be running the venue.”
However, Live Nation seem to have addressed these concerns in today’s announcement, with a press release promising to implement measures that would prevent any hypothetical dodgy dealings on their part:
“Since Live Nation’s integrated business model includes venue management, concert promotion and ticketing, extensive consideration has been given to the development of a Fair Competition and Confidentiality Policy for the hire of the Palais Theatre, which will be subject to approval by the Council.”
Live Nation Australia and New Zealand CEO Michael Coppel has also reiterated his company’s pledge to operate the venue for the benefit of all involved – including any rival promoters who might book shows there – while also pledging to restore The Palais to her former glory:
“To have been granted stewardship of this iconic venue carries a great responsibility, and we will seek to restore the Palais to its former glories, to better adapt it to the changing requirements of live performances, and to operate it for the benefit of all stakeholders, hirers, staff and patrons.”
Meanwhile, council seems pretty stoked about LN’s commitment to give back to the community through fundraising, courtesy of their pledge to establish the “Palais Theatre Community Fund”.
Under this new PTCF, 50c from every ticket sold at the venue will be donated to support a range of community-based initiatives, with the potential to raise up to $4 million each year, which is pretty damn impressive if you ask us.
What’s more, the fund will be administered by a committee which will include not just Live Nation, but also community and council reps (= very aboveboard).
Current CEO of Palais Theatre Management Company Neil Croker – who took over the venue in 2007 and steered it from an average 30 shows a year to 110 – will finish up as the venue’s operator in December.
The Age reports that other bidders like Live Nation offered to pay council more money for the theatre, which forced Croker & co. to move on.
The Palais is set to undergo a $20 million restoration, due to be completed in early 2017, with Live Nation’s new lease expected to kick in once the works are complete.
Hopefully, this will spell good news for all of Melbourne’s live music stakeholders.
But for now, we play the waiting game.